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How to Get Rid of Raccoons

How do you know if you have a raccoon visiting your home? Read on to learn about the signs of raccoon activity, and how to remove them from your property safely and humanely.

Raccoon iStock

Raccoons may look adorable, with their solemn, masked faces, but they can cause harm and damage to your home, your pets, and even your health. These pests can be annoying, tipping over your garbage cans to leave trash strewn everywhere and decimating your vegetable garden.

At the more dangerous end of the spectrum, they may fight with your outdoor cat or small dog, which poses the possibility of passing on canine distemper or rabies, and may sometimes even lead to the injury or death of a beloved pet.

Signs of Raccoon Activity

How do you know if you have a raccoon visiting your home? Tipped over garbage cans are a telltale sign, but also look for their droppings near the base of trees or wood piles.

They are nocturnal creatures, so sometimes you can hear them at night. Raccoons make a wide range of noises, but the most common one you’ll hear is a frenzied chirping or chittering sound.

What Does Raccoon Poop Look Like?

But the biggest hazard that raccoons present comes from their poop. Their feces, which are similar in shape and smell to dog feces, can carry roundworm eggs that are very harmful to humans.

Accidentally ingesting or inhaling these eggs can cause neurological problems in people, and sometimes even death. Raccoons are known to repeatedly defecate in the same area, and this can be a big problem if that area is within the perimeter of your property.

How to Get Rid of Raccoons & Keep Them Away

The best way to get rid of these unwanted guests is to stop enticing them. Secure garbage cans shut with bungee cords, avoid leaving pet food outside at night, clean up birdseed strewn on the ground, and protect your vegetable garden in a mesh enclosure.

If you’ve tried all these things and find that raccoons are still attracted to your property, you may want to consider trapping and physically removing them. Here are the steps to take for that option.

Select a trap

Most raccoon traps are wire cages with a trigger plate on the inside that closes the door. They come in various sizes, but large traps are best because raccoons are (rightfully) suspicious of small, confined spaces and won’t likely enter them.

Place the trap

Raccoons don’t like to walk out in the open, so they tend to travel along walls and fences. It’s a good idea to place your trap alongside these structures, parallel to them. Other prime locations include under hedges or bushes. Try to position the trap in the shade, as a captured raccoon can quickly die in the heat. Also, weigh down the trap with bricks or large rocks to prevent raccoons from tipping them over.

Bait and set the trap

Raccoons eat just about anything, but they favor meats like pet food or canned chicken or fish. They also have a sweet tooth, so large marshmallows are commonly used as bait. Wear gloves while placing your bait in the trap so your scent isn’t transferred onto the food.

Place the bait at the far end of the trap, past the trigger point. Prop open the trap door according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then check on the trap twice a day.

Relocate the raccoon

Once you catch a raccoon, you’ll need to relocate it quickly so it doesn’t languish in the trap. But first, contact your local animal control to learn about the laws and regulations surrounding relocation in your area. Some states require licensed operators to perform the relocation.

If you’re moving the raccoon yourself, wear thick gloves and clothing to protect yourself from bites and scratches. Raccoons can extend their paws several inches out of the cage, so hold it away from your body. Throw a blanket over the cage to calm down the animal and make it easier to transport.

Make sure you drive the raccoon at least 10 miles away from your home, or it may be able to find its way back.

To release the animal, face the trap door away from you and open it. The raccoon should run out on its own.